A Change of Direction

Ramblings from October blog entries in 2002 and 2003!

IMG_1099On the weekend that the clocks went back, the late autumnal weather arrived with a vengeance. 80mph gales battered everything around me and like many others I was the victim of minor structural damage. Boundary fences failed to withstand the force of the wind and the resulting devastation was becoming a minefield for local tradesmen eager to capitalise on the situation, either in the supply of replacement materials or in labour costs. C’est la vie!

My website was also in the process of undergoing a major update and redesign as I struggled to come to terms with the technological advances of HTML. For weeks it was a project in the making, and eventually surfaced at the beginning of 2003.

Back in 2002 I was still working for a major Plc. The company had decided to forge ahead with a programme of cultural change and, at times, it was difficult to keep up with developments, let alone understand exactly what they really meant.

To illustrate the futility of this change programme, the company issued a statement to the effect that recruitment policy would consider an applicant’s ability to ‘live the culture’ as far more important than the ability to do the job. All this so-called wisdom emanated from the United States, and I still have total sympathy for people in the USA who constantly have to endure this theoretical nonsense.

As part of the change in culture, more redundancies were announced, which went against one of the company values of respecting and encouraging one another. At the time, my own position remained unaffected, although major changes in reporting line structure were imminent. The result was that my role within the company was redefined to meet new objectives. To be totally honest, even then, I’d had more than enough of all the change and uncertainty, and simply wanted to do what I did best…namely, fulfil the role for which I had been employed twelve years previously!

Twelve months later and I had been unemployed for nearly six months after falling victim to savage staff cuts. The stress of seeking new employment opportunities and trying to pay bills led to a long period of feeling well below par. A kind benefactor invited me to spend a few days in Brittany and this was just what the doctor ordered. The change of scenery and fresh air helped to relieve me of most of a virus infection, and I also enjoyed some excellent cuisine during my short stay. People in the United Kingdom often criticise the French for their abruptness and aloofness, but on this visit, I only encountered warm hospitality and courtesy. On one occasion, we were enjoying a drink in a small bar, and when local people entered, they made a special point of greeting us. Can anyone possibly imagine that happening in many of our drinking establishments?

Upon returning home, I was once again reminded of just how crowded our roads and streets are compared with much of France. I had only been driving for about twenty minutes on my return journey from the ferry port when traffic ground to a complete halt and I found myself in a queue of over a mile long. Whilst there were the inevitable traffic delays in the large towns, main roads in France were of the usual high standard found throughout the country and free of obstruction. It’s little wonder, therefore, that so many British people seek solace across the channel.

Of particular beauty were some of the many unspoilt beaches with their golden sands and clear blue water, in contrast to many of our southern coast beaches with their shale and murky waters. To find similar landscapes in Britain, one has to travel to the north coast of Scotland and whilst some of the beaches are totally unspoilt and secluded, the climate is almost always less amenable.

The object of the visit was because my friend was looking for a property in France. Whilst he remained undecided as to exactly what he wanted, the trip only further endorsed my long term desire to eventually move to France on a permanent basis.

Oh, and as for the company for which I worked, it finally ceased to exist in its former image in 2005. Obviously they were unable to manage without my expertise!

Advertisements

25 Random Facts

Photo 11_2_2Having read a similar list of facts on another blog the writer expressed an interest in reading those of others. Therefore, so as not to disappoint, here are some random facts written especially for Stig in Glasgow!

One

I’m right-handed, and also right-footed. My left hand is almost entirely useless for anything that requires any level of skill or dexterity. When it comes to real dancing, I have two left feet but attempt to kick a ball badly with my right foot.

Two

I’ve only ever broken one bone. This was effectively a chip in my left ankle but it needed a plaster cast for three weeks. This was badly fitted and hindered the healing process rather than helping it! How did it happen? Well I accidently fell off the edge of a curb stone when in north Wales and then drove nearly 100 miles home in total agony. Mobility was very difficult for several weeks!

Three

I’m a convert to Mac and have a MacBook but an iMac is on my wish list. I have no desire for an iPhone as I prefer to keep telephone usage separate from other applications so for those I have an iTouch which must be one of the best purchases ever made. It’s so versatile!

Four

I have brown eyes and now wear spectacles for driving. I also need them for very small print (not usually worth reading!) but not for general use.

Five

I am a lapsed piano and recorder player. When I was only eight (far too many years to remember) the music advisor for the local education authority recorded my playing which was then taken round to every school in the county to illustrate what could be achieved at such a young age. I can still play the piece from memory. I’ve also appeared on television twice and been interviewed live on local radio when organising a charity function.

Six

I’m an enthusiastic amateur photographer enjoying landscapes and historic buildings the most. However, I would love to have been able to learn the art of portrait photography.

Seven

I lived in various parts of the Midlands for most of my life before moving to Cornwall nearly five years ago. Whilst it’s certainly not the hub of the universe, the quality of life takes a lot of beating. However, my ultimate dream is to move to France and far enough south to benefit from the better summers. A dose of sun is so good for one’s general state of mind.

Eight

I disagree with devolution within the United Kingdom and the fact that there are different laws and regulations depending upon where one lives. United means just that – the joining together of nations with common laws. Sadly that message has not reached all the states in America as, for example, some still apply the death penalty. Independence for the nations forming this country would lead to segregation, confusion and potential anarchy.

Nine

I don’t really have an accent and generally speak the Queen’s English!

Ten

My favourite popular song of all time is The Winner Takes It All by Abba. It’s so evocative yet sad at the same time. Not a song to absorb if one is feeling depressed. My favourite classical music covers a variety of church organ music including pieces by Bach, Saint-Saens and Widor.

Eleven

I have one scar which is on the back of my head. This cannot normally be seen as it is covered by hair growth even though the hair does not grow in the scarred area. I fell through a french window pane when I was four years old. I can still remember the blood and the pain to this day!

Twelve

I could drive when I was 16 and passed my driving test just after my 17th birthday. Even today, I am often told how safe a driver I am, and that does not mean that I drive slowly! I have driven extensively across Europe as well as in the USA and Canada.

Thirteen

I have a faith and believe in God but have no time for so-called luck, fate, voodoo, magic, or psychic phenomenon. I believe that we are the only human race but that there are undoubtedly other life forms in the universe. If it were reality rather than science fiction, I would love to time travel in the Tardis with Doctor Who as this would be both exhilarating and extremely interesting.

Fourteen

My favourite colour is yellow. It signifies cleanliness, brightness and life; one of the first spring flowers is the daffodil. In clothes, I enjoy wearing shades of blue and pink (no comments thank you!) and pastel shades suit me better than bold colours. My least favourite colours are brown and green.

Fifteen

I’ve worked in a job where I was required to wear a shirt and tie for most of my life although haven’t worked the traditional 9-5 routine. Due to circumstances entirely out of my control I was eventually obliged to work for myself. This still requires a dress code as I have to project a formal business image. Wearing a tie doesn’t bother me (I’ve built up quite a selection over the years) but I enjoy the more casual approach whenever possible.

Sixteen

Ignorance in people is the most annoying trait for me. I cannot stand a lack of basic manners – it takes very little effort to extend a ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. I also cannot stand arrogant and self-opinionated people who think they are more important than everyone else. I’m a stickler for correct grammar so any errors in this are by accident rather than design!

Seventeen

In recent years I’ve become more easily distracted from what I should be concentrating upon. This may be attributable to age but I find periods of so-called daydreaming are good for the soul. It is a form of escapism and gives the mind time to recharge its batteries.

Eighteen1999.1115.4

My hair was brown when I was younger. It then went through a salt and peppery stage before turning predominantly grey. This I really don’t mind but what I hate is the fact that it’s falling out! In 1999 I had my hair bleached bright blond for BBC Children In Need and raised nearly £900 in the process. During the 1980s I used to have highlights in my hair.

Nineteen

I have travelled quite extensively although there are countries which I would love to visit but will probably remain a dream. Countries visited to date are the United Kingdom, Eire, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Andorra, Italy, the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Canada and the USA. On my wish list are Peru (to visit Machu Pichu), more eastern European countries and western Canada.

Twenty

It would be hypocritical of me to say that I don’t swear but this is very infrequent and only when something or someone has seriously annoyed me. I don’t swear for effect and get annoyed by excessive swearing on television. To me, most people swear because they don’t have the necessary vocabulary to express themselves grammatically.

Twenty-one

Fortunately I am not excessively overweight but this is not due to a regular exercise routine, ore a case of eating healthily. I spend too much time either seated in front of a computer or behind the wheel of my car. Before moving to my present location I used to go riding on my mountain bike but the terrain in my immediate locality is hilly and not conducive to pleasure cycling. That’s my excuse anyway!

Twenty-two

I admit to watching too much TV but am generally selective as to the type of programme I watch. Sometimes I watch via the BBC iPlayer and will often record something to watch at a later date. I do enjoy mystery dramas and the classical serials at which the BBC excel. Other popular choices are nature programmes and documentaries. I watch little sport except for Wimbledon and some snooker.

Twenty-three

I prefer to type correspondence rather than write manually. As much of the paperwork I complete has to be photo-copied, documents have to be written in black ink. My handwriting was much better in the days when I used a fountain pen which was always filled with blue ink. (As an aside, I remember daydreaming at secondary school and spilling a bottle of ink all over my school books and uniform. I was extremely unpopular both with the teacher and my parents!)

Twenty-four

As I get older, my faith in British politics diminishes by the day. When I was younger I entered into heated political debates, participated in mock elections and debated many motions, almost always in defence of the Conservative party. Nowadays, none of the main parties stand for everything that I believe in, so any vote is often a protest vote. However, I firmly believe that a vote should primarily be for a person rather than for the party that they represent, as personality is by far the best attribute for achieving change in a locality. I have had the privilege to visit both the House of Lords and House of Commons as well as the House of Senate and House of Representatives in the Capitol Building. Interestingly at the time, there was a certain George Bush Snr speaking who later became President. Compared with his son George W. Bush, he was relatively competent at the job. Any political party must command the respect of the electorate if they are to have any chance of succeeding in their proposed objectives.

Twenty-five

Despite my more senior age, I’ve readily embraced modern technology and enjoy maximising the benefits of computers, portable gadgets and the internet. The latter has contributed to several very long term friendships as well as providing entertainment, mental stimulation and an accessible window on the world.

Well, I’ve struggled to find twenty-five random facts about me, many of which are not particularly interesting. Still, you handed me the challenge so you must deal with the consequences!